Peter Robinson issued a writing challenge in Romney on Trump:
To what extent is Mitt Romney correct? [Romney asserted: “To a great degree, a presidency shapes the public character of the nation.”]
I found myself turning back to questions of personal versus political morality or virtue. That brought back contrasts between Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. On that pairing, I recalled a national talk show host claiming, in 2006, that personally morally upright men did not have what it took to do what good leaders must. This was a superficial riff on The Prince. My response at the time, spring of 2006, still seems fairly on point [clarifications in brackets]:
False dilemma. The problem is that the underpinnings that made Clinton “privately” immoral — all about self-centeredness and short-term gratification — also made him a disastrous president.
Play off the North Korea problem so you don’t have to deal with hard military/ diplomatic/ economic choices. President Bush comes along and finds the North Koreans with a bomb they weren’t supposed to have according to Clinton’s “solution.”
Tell your securities and white-collar crime investigators to not rock the boat and the good times keep rolling on shady deals and cooked books. President Bush comes in, and prosecutors start doing their jobs again, and we have the hit of corporate chieftains doing the perp walk as their stocks tank. [The Dot Com bubble burst. See also this leftist critique of Clinton’s economic mismanagement. See this Houston Chronicle report on white collar perp walks.]
Bomb an aspirin factory [Sudan] and a few empty tents [Afghanistan] instead of taking the hard decisions to put troops in harms way, cut and run when a few Americans get killed in combat you hoped they’d never face [Mogadishu] … the Left-activist base of your party doesn’t get upset … and then President Bush gets to deal with an emboldened global Islamofascism.
I think you can have a privately immoral man who is effective publicly — JFK comes to mind.
I think President Bush’s weakness is his excessive pride, stubbornness in the face of overwhelming evidence he is wrong. The “vigilante” comment [citizens embarrassing him by going to patrol the border themselves], Harriet Miers [the Supreme Court nominee conservatives forced Bush to withdraw], and the Dubai Ports veto threat [where a Dubai state-owned company was going to take over management of major U.S. ports] are all example of him shooting from the hip, unprepared by the staff that ought to have given him better advise, and then pridefully digging in his heels as he bleeds political capital. I suspect the core problem is that he is dealing with subordinates that are not team players, or that have their own teams playing for different goals — so he gets stranded or fails to act in specific instances consistent with the big ideas he expresses.